2018 travel goals: New year, new places

Happy New Year, y’all! My 2018 is off to a great start. I am finally done with the insanely busy season at my day job. I’m learning to cook new recipes, trying out new classes at the gym, and reading more. But I’ve also been thinking through what I want to accomplish this year — including my 2018 travel goals.

 

In this post, I’ll walk through why it’s useful to have travel goals and how to develop them. Then I’ll share my goals for this year and give you a preview of what I’m up to the next couple months!

 

Why set 2018 travel goals?

 

Camel caravan in the Danakil Depression
Thinking through my travel goals helped convince me to take the trip of a lifetime to Ethiopia

 

About two years ago, I took a two-week trip to Nicaragua that — while I enjoyed it — entirely failed to inspire me. I’d chosen Nicaragua because it was close, cheap to get to, and cheap to travel around; not because I really wanted to go to Nicaragua.

 

After I returned, I realized that since my year-long trip around the world, I’d been solely taking trips that were easy and convenient, rather than places that I was really excited about. So I set the goal of making my dream trip happen that year.

 

I’d been dreaming of traveling to Ethiopia for five years. I’d build it up in my head so much that it had achieved once-in-a-lifetime-trip status. I imagined that I’d need tons of money and a lot of time to make it possible.

 

But I was fed up with unsatisfying vacations. So after months of planning, I went on the trip. It lived up to every expectation. It was the most thrilling travel experience I’ve ever had. And — much to my surprise — I spent less money than I had in Nicaragua.

 

It also completely reframed my thinking about travel. I realized that these “dream trips” didn’t have to be unattainable. I decided to abandon the “easy and cheap” philosophy and figure out a way to fit these “I really want to go” trips into my budget and lifestyle. And I’ve rediscovered why I love traveling to begin with.

 

By setting travel goals at the beginning of the year, I can anticipate the expenses, time commitments, and other barriers associated with travel. I can budget well in advance. I can organize other important activities around my travel plans. And I can make smarter choices about “is this trip worth it?”

 

The other great thing about travel goals is they make it easy to hold yourself accountable. Since I’ve started focusing my travel goals around “dream trips,” I’ve been constantly tempted by cheap and easy trips that I could take instead. My goals make it easier to say “no” to opportunities that come up that I’m not fully interested in.

 

What makes a good travel goal?

 

Kuta's a little obnoxious, but at least the sunsets are nice
There’s nothing wrong with making “sit on a beautiful beach” one of your travel goals.

 

So you’ve decided to make some 2018 travel goals. That’s great! But where do you start?

 

The most important aspect of a travel goal is it has to be specific. “Travel more” isn’t really a goal. “Travel at least four times this year” is much stronger.

 

At the same time, your goals should allow for some flexibility. For example, I might not go so far as to say “travel in February, April, August, and October.” That wouldn’t leave me enough room to snag cheap plane tickets. If you have a few things you’re really set on — like places you really want to visit — try to be flexible on some other component of them (like when you’ll go, for how long, or who you’ll go with). If your 2018 travel goals are too specific, they’ll be too difficult to meet.

 

Additionally, your goals should be in alignment with what you really want to accomplish. If your priority is to see as many new places as possible, your goals should reflect that. If you’re a slow traveler who would rather spend a month in one place, then maybe “visit 18 countries this year” isn’t a good goal for you.

 

Finally, your goals should be ambitious but attainable. For instance, if you only get ten vacation days a year and you don’t want to leave your job, you probably shouldn’t make “travel for three months” one of your goals. Instead, you could think creatively about how to make the most of long weekends. Or talk to your boss about getting some unpaid time off (that you’ll then have to budget for). “Travel for three weeks” might be more realistic, while still presenting the challenges and excitement of a long trip.

 

My 2018 travel goals — and plans to make them happen

 

Getting back to the Caribbean coast of Mexico is a priority for me this year — for the diving, of course, but the beaches are a bonus.

 

When I was coming up with my travel goals for 2018, I designed them around activities rather than places I wanted to visit. This is because I have a (very) long list of places I really want to go, but no single place that I have my heart set on this year.

 

So without further ado, here are my 2018 travel goals:

  1. Go on a long trek without hiring a porter to carry my backpack.
  2. Learn a new language and use it while traveling.
  3. Dive enough to regain my confidence underwater.
  4. Visit at least one new place a month, even if it’s just a day trip or in my home city.
  5. Improve my photography and blogging skills throughout my travels.

 

I know it’s only January 6th, but I already have plans to knock out a few of these goals by May. Next weekend, I’m going to Mexico for a few days of diving (and beach lounging, of course!). In February I’m taking a short trip to Paris. This is forcing me to learn — or, so far, completely fail at — French. And in April-May, I’m taking off on a 3-week adventure in Nepal, where I will trek the Annapurna circuit independently.

 

Meanwhile, I’m ready to up my photography game with a new phone (with a decent camera) and a tripod. And after a three-month hiatus, I’m recommitting to spend time on this blog.

 

I can’t wait to see what adventures 2018 brings. And I look forward to sharing them with you every step of the way.

 

What are your 2018 travel goals? Leave a comment and let me know!

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